Posted On: 09/01/2014
Itís happy hour at The Hive, and Iím lounging on a sun-soaked patio with friends, halfway through an iced-down bucket of lagers. A $5 basket of toasted ravioli is on the way. Laughter and cold beer are in abundance on the deck. This is a typical scene for the no-frills, ramshackle dive bar in Creve Coeur.
The place: a quirky, two-story hole-in-the-wall. The Hive may well have been zoned as commercial property, but it could just as easily have been a single-family home abandoned in the 1970s and left to the beer-swilling hordes who took up residence. Buried out in West County Ė land of office parks, strip malls, and cul-de-sacs Ė The Hive isnít so much a local institution as it is a guilty pleasure for people seeking cheap beer and raucous company. The main floor is a frat house-basement of a room crammed with dart boards, flat screens, sports memorabilia, neon beer signs and traces of cigarette smoke, presumably trapped inside from whenever the Gin Blossoms last had a hit radio single. Outside, thereís a cheerful collection of a dozen or so umbrella-topped tables and plastic chairs, part of a makeshift Biergarten overlooking the adjacent parking lot.
The crowd: Itís hardly the Ritz, but good luck scoring a seat at the bar at 6 p.m. on a weeknight. During my visits, the convivial downstairs room at The Hive was abuzz with a diverse clientele: thirsty undergrads on summer break, middle-aged suburban men with their ties loosened and a smattering of blue-collar guys in paint-splashed jeans. Dolled-up waitresses dart around the tables, upstairs and down, stopping maybe to fuss over their hair in the mirror behind the bar before eventually making their way to the next table with a smile and a notepad. The older crowd swells early on weekend nights, with singles and couples alike stopping in to relax over a pitcher of beer. But as the night stumbles on, the BMW- and Brooks Brothers-crowd is steadily outnumbered by the younger demographic, wearing T-shirts and driving open-top Jeep Wranglers.
The booze: is plentiful and inexpensive. While there is a nominal list of well-meaning signature cocktails Ė Bee Tang, The Hive Lemonade, XXX Berry Martini Ė none is very strong, and during one of my visits, the martinis were oddly served up in oversized plastic cups that were likely intended as water glasses. Things got better with the regular mixed drinks and classic cocktails, including a whiskey sour Iíd be glad to sip on for the rest of my days. Donít expect too much variety in terms of beer choices (Guinness and Stella Artois are about as international as the place gets), but $3 cocktails and bottles of domestic beer make for a fine happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. every weekday. Food-wise, the thin, crispy $9 pizzas are stellar, as are those piping-hot and savory toasted raviolis. On Tuesdays, $1 tacos are served all day.
The bottom line: If todayís bar scene is all about up-charging for meticulously prepared drinks with properly sourced ingredients, itís good to know thereís still an absolute antithesis out there. Typical neighborhood bars can easily devolve into forgettable, half-assed puzzles with several pieces missing. This isnít so at The Hive. Thereís a grin-inducing, at-home feel about the place, which is no small feat for a random suburban saloon. So either pull up a chair or push back the table and scamper off in distaste. If itís the latter, itíll only mean more beer for the rest of us. The Hive is happy to see you buzz off.
609 N. New Ballas Road, Creve Coeur, 314.569.1769,
Facebook: The Hive
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